“I’ve heard a rumor, Miss Darby.”
I crack one of my eyes open. Apparently I fell asleep on the sofa in Lady B’s library. I go to check the time and then remember that I’m back in the Regency and my cell phone has no power here. That’s the problem with spending a little too much time in 2013; one tends to forget some important details.
“Sit up, Miss Darby!” Lady B folds her arms over her chest and taps her toe. Loudly. And then I feel a pecking at my hair. Albert!
Naturally her minion would be close at hand. I sit up begrudgingly. As uncomfortable as these Regency sofas are, I was rather enjoying my rest.
“What rumor, Lady B?” I ask and seeing that she now has my attention, she finally sits down in the big brown leather chair across from me.
“A rumor that you have released a new book.”
“I assured Albert that it could not possibly be true as I have not yet received a copy and all of your fellow authoresses have always been intelligent enough to send me a copy in advance of the public. However, Miss MacLean (who did present me with a copy of the fabulous One Good Earl Deserves a Lover) mentioned that you wrote yet again about mistresses. So what do you have to say for yourself?”
She is definitely in a huff.
“With apologies, Lady B, I confess the rumor is true.”
<< Squawk! >> Now you did it! << Squawk! >>
“But,” I continue quickly, “it is so different from my usual fare, and I’ve been a bit preoccupied this last week that—”
“Enough with the excuses, Miss Darby.”
“I am sorry, Lady B. Completely remiss of me. May I present you with a very special copy entirely for you? And one for Albert as well?”
Daniel Hartmann and Emily Anderson have every reason to hate each other. Her father destroyed the lives of his parents and he in turn sent her father to jail. Now Daniel’s a successful billionaire and artsy Emily is his newest employee. Both of them intend to make the other pay for the sins of the past, but revenge has never been so sweet.
Lady B nods with a sniff. And then opens the book.
And then starts to read. Aloud.
“Emily Anderson, right?”
So he knew my name. Despite the relative ubiquity of Anderson as a last name, surely then, he knew that I was the daughter of his father’s old partner.
I straightened. Turned. Sent him that slanted smile. Up close he was nearly devastating. But he wasn’t smiling back. Maybe that intense expression meant something other than the desire I had read. Maybe I only knew how to read college boys, not mega-wealthy businessmen.
“That’s right,” I said lightly. Took a sip of water while
watching him. “Newest employee at Hartmann Enterprises . . . Mr. Hartmann.”
His lips quirked. I almost held my breath, expecting that brief movement to stretch into his patented smirk, the one that had stared out at me from GQ. For goodness’ sake, he was a celebrity, or at least dated celebrities. And I was talking to him.
“Well, newest employee. I’m on my way out to lunch. Join me.”
He shifted. I could see the outline of muscles under the smooth lines of his pants. I had the brief, clear idea that his body would be long and lean, the sort of body that belonged to a man who was active and athletic but had never tried to bulk up. He was about a decade older than me and yet he was without doubt the most attractive man I’d ever been within five feet of.
He knew my name and he was asking me to lunch. If that didn’t add up to having been made, I didn’t know what did. I wanted to run but I had to brazen this out.
I crossed my arms, affected an air of nonchalance that I didn’t feel at all.
“Do you invite all your newest employees out to lunch?”
“Do you look at all your bosses that way?”
The way I had looked at him? What about the way he had looked at me?
“You’re my first boss,” I bit back quickly, hoping the heat I felt didn’t show in my cheeks. How exactly had I looked at him?
“We hired you without a track record?”
I wanted to stamp my feet at how easily he caught me off guard, twisted my words to serve him. Instead, I arched an eyebrow. Tilted my head. “Should I be worried for my job?”
He smirked. I sucked in a breath. The man was wickedly handsome. It wasn’t fair. Especially since I resented him. Hated him. He’d sent my father to jail.
There . . . attraction almost all gone.
“No. I don’t invite all my employees to lunch. But I’m inviting you.”
Lady B looks up. “While I am not entirely certain about the language in this novel, I do hope you intend to bring this Daniel Hartmann to visit. You know how I always enjoy when these rogues attend one of my balls.”
“I will definitely see what I can do.”
However, in the meantime, I’m giving away a digital copy of Entry-Level Mistress to one of our commentors. I know we all adore Regency rakes, but what about contemporary heroes? Who are your favorites of years past?